‘Bond notes stifling insurance sector’ 

Source: ‘Bond notes stifling insurance sector’ – DailyNews Live

HARARE – The Insurance and Pensions Commission is targeting insurance
penetration to reach seven percent by 2022 compared to the current 4,7
percent on the back of an anticipated economic growth.

Zimbabwe remains in top five in the region in terms of insurance
penetration. Paul Nyakazeya interviewed Glenrand MIB Zimbabwe chief
executive officer Takura Dzimwasha about the insurance industry in
Zimbabwe.

Glenrand is a registered short-term insurance broking company in Zimbabwe.

Q: What is reinsurance? Do to think people understand what it is and how
it works?
A: You may recall that the basic definition of insurance points to a “risk
transfer mechanism”.
The buyer of insurance products (insured) transfers the risk of loss/
accident onto the shoulders of an insurance company.
The insurance company can only take so much of the risk and also transfers
the balance to another company, the reinsurer.
Reinsurance is basically insurance bought by the insurer.
People only need to be sure that whoever the insurer they are dealing with
is adequately reinsured especially in the event of major losses.

Q: The average life assurance/pension fund investor feels robbed/done out
of their savings. What role has your sector played in this erosion of
value and loss of savings?
A: We operate in the short-term insurance space, where products span to a
maximum of 12 months.
We understand that 12 months is too long a horizon for planning purposes
and as such our team advises all our clients to review the insured values
every quarter to ensure that they remain adequately covered.

Q: How has been trust levels among your clients and in general and do you
see your business and the sector recovering?
A: Over the years, we have had a very good business retention record. We
are confident that our clients trust the level of our expertise as we
advise them.
All our staff members are also doing various initiatives towards refining
and sharpening their skills so that they can serve our clients better.
The reason why we continue to grow is that our clients see value in our
services and are not ashamed to refer their peers to do business with us.
The sector we are in relies heavily on the fortunes of industry and is
bound to recover as the whole economy recovers.

Q. What strategies do you have in place to improve the situation?
A: We are always looking out to improve our service offering, both in
terms of scope of cover as well as pricing.
We realise that insurance does not fall on the priority list of critical
expenditure for many people.
Our role is to advise them on the levels of their exposures and
demonstrate how key insurance is towards mitigating the potential losses.
Whenever there is appreciation of danger appetite for insurance products
always increases, holding other things constant.

Q: Since the introduction of bond notes in 2016 and re-emergence of the
black market, what has been the impact on the insurance and re-insurance
sector. What challenges, if any, are you facing?
A: The re-emergence of the black market has resulted in a three-tier
pricing system for the RTGS, bond and US dollar transactions.
The cost of imported goods such as motor vehicle spares, household goods,
plant and machinery components and building materials is either pegged in
US dollar terms or inflated at the ruling alternative market rates which
are not 1:1 with the US dollar.
Realistically, the parallel market rates have left most insureds
underinsured as the insured values are below their market values.
Revising the values upwards is, however, a huge expenditure on the part of
the insureds since income levels are not rising in line with the changes
in the foreign exchange markets.
As an example, panel beaters cannot access foreign currency in the formal
market because they are low on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe priority list.
For them to remain in business they go to the alternative forex market and
have to scale up their prices by levying the forex premiums to the
insured.
Ultimately the insurance companies have a much higher repair bill to meet
and the insureds also pay more in terms of their contributions in each and
every loss (excess).

Q: The perception out there is that underwriters are quick to receive
money from their clients but very slow to react when it comes to meeting
their end of the bargain in times of need. The question is: what is the
incentive of insuring if one is not able to enjoy the benefits of the
insurance?
A: This is a problem of lack of awareness. Particularly for motor
insurance, the problem arises when cheap insurance is bought from
unscrupulous/ bogus people.
We advise all our clients to arrange their insurances through a reputable
insurance broker, where Glenrand is rated highly.
The broker knows the insurance market and should be able to properly
advise the insureds on the best companies to deal with.
We are aware that there are companies that prefer not to settle their
obligations. Others, however, go out of their way to ensure that they find
an excuse to settle claims.
We take time to analyse the security levels of all insurance companies as
well as their capacity and service quality before we recommend them to our
clients.

Q: Clients are now more critical when it comes to deciding whom to deal
with. Do underwriters have the capacity to pay at this moment.
Furthermore, do they have good balance sheet sizes to support good
reinsurance programmes?
A:There are a few very solid underwriters in the market, who have grown
their balance sheets in recent years and are very capable of settling
claims whenever they arise.
In the midst of the challenges bedevilling the economy some of them have
been bullish in terms of their market share and have either maintained or
improved on their GCR rating for claims paying ability.
These are the insurers we recommend to our clients.

Q: Insurance companies have tended to rely on investment income with very
little being recorded from underwriting income, is this likely to change
this time around from what the industry has experienced during since the
beginning of the year?
A: Quite a few companies this year have decided to clean up and rebalance
their books.
Premiums rates for some products have been scaled up while terms and
conditions on others tightened up all in an effort to boost underwriting
income.
From the beginning of the year very little has been earned from
investments because money market rates are depressed, the stock market has
been bearish while the property market faces challenges with high voids.
These factors are worsened by disturbances that are normally
characteristic of an election year. Profitability of insurers will this
year hinge upon a good underwriting result.

Q: How is the issue of capitalisation being handled, are industry players
capitalised and will all companies be able to capitalise by year end?
A: The Insurance Commissioner, through Ipec, has come up with absolute
capitalisation minimums which a few companies are struggling to meet.
Companies have been given more than enough time to meet the minimum
requirements and those that demonstrate non-compliance will at some point
be forced to close shop.
We believe that it is in the best interests of the insuring public to have
solid underwriters. We urge Ipec to be more vigorous in monitoring
compliance in this regard.

Q: What has been the industry’s major highlights since the beginning of
the year?
A: The industry continues to push for micro-insurance products for
consumption by individuals, SMEs and the general informal market. This
will help scale up insurance penetration ratios.

Q: What do you think government and the regulator need to do ensure that
the reinsurance industry grows?
A: We urge the government, through Ipec, to be more vigorous in flashing
out bogus insurance companies and those that are short-changing the
insuring public by not paying claims.
Furthermore, Ipec should come in to regulate and bring sanity on rampant
price competition and undercutting which is to the detriment of the
insuring public in the long run.

Q: Who is Glenrand and what can the market expect from then during the
second half of the year?
A: Glenrand MIB is a registered short-term insurance broking company,
offering a wide range of services to local and international clients.
We are market leaders in corporate and commercial broking and a major
participant in personal insurance.
We offer tailor-made solutions to mining, agricultural, manufacturing,
construction and finance operations.
Our services also extend to specialised risk management through our
lasting commitment to personal service of the highest calibre.

Q: Do you have any specific issues or developments you want the market to
know about Glenrand?
A: Glenrand has very strong roots in Agricultural insurance following the
acquisition of Farming & Industrial Insurance Brokers by UDC and Glenrand
MIB to form UDC Glenrand in the late 90’s.
Over the last two years the company has been retracing its footsteps and
has been re-establishing products tailor-made to provide solutions to the
agriculture sector.
The farming book has been growing exponentially and focus on this area
will continue in the short to medium term. This also coincides with the
thrust by the new political administration which is employing “Command
Agriculture” to boost Gross Domestic Product.

– Financial Gazette

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 1
  • comment-avatar

    But why, mabondi notes are equal to the US dollar on a one for one basis.
    Even Doctor Comrade John “Bond’Mangudya Phd ( Univ of the Caribbean) said so – so it must be true comrades.
    As I read elsewhere I think Doctor John Bond should have read about Greshams law before he started fiddling with ZW’s currency